Search gains focus

Board invites community to join superintendent hunt

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— The Steamboat Springs School District will use community focus groups to help guide its hunt for a permanent superintendent.

The Steamboat Springs School Board met Tuesday with Bob Cito, head of the Colorado Association of School Boards' superintendent search division, to begin outlining search parameters. The district has hired CASB to lead the search effort.

Cito said using focus groups is an important part of any superintendent hiring process.

"Focus groups are a very critical part of the process because they help generate good interview techniques and questions, and they narrow down what specific things you are looking for in a candidate," Cito said Friday. "If you don't know what you are looking for, then all candidates look good."

The focus groups will consist of district "stakeholders," including administrators, teachers, support staff, students, parents and other members of the community. School Board members will not be part of focus group sessions.

"They are going to get a summary report of data afterwards," Cito said. "I'll be acting as the representative of board members in these meetings. : A lot of times, when the School Board is there something will come up and you digress, delve into that topic, and try to create possible solutions."

School Board member Denise Connelly said the focus group invitation is extended to anyone in the community who is interested in participating.

"We don't want them coming in with a prepared script," she said. "We want people to be open and honest with Bob about their ideas of what our strong points and weak points are. : We want to be sure we are including everybody who wants to be included in the process to get the best fit for our district."

School Board President Robin Crossan said board members won't discuss contract parameters for a new superintendent until after focus groups are completed. Cito added that board members should already have an idea of what salary and benefits will be offered.

"This is a new process for all of us," Crossan said. "But it's been very positive and productive so far. We are not going to take our time, but we are going to make sure we find the right fit for our district."

"We want to be a little bit more into the process until we talk about money," she said.

Cito plans to conduct the focus groups Jan. 28.

In addition to planning for focus groups, the School Board also established a timeline this week for completing the hiring process.

"We'll initiate the application process at the beginning of February with a deadline for turning in applications at the beginning of March," Connelly said. "We'll be doing screenings and background checks in March and hoping to invite candidates here for an interview by the end of the month with a hopeful selection date sometime in April."

District stakeholders who want to be included in the focus groups should contact the school district office at 879-1530.

Dr. Sandra Smyser is serving as the district's interim superintendent. She has not said whether she will apply for the permanent position.

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